A disturbing article by William Glaberson and Lisa Foderaro in the New York Times today talks about the danger of falling limbs from trees, and the number of injuries that trees have caused in New York City alone. The article cites deep cutbacks in the amount of money the city spends on tree maintenance in the last few years as one of the main contributors to a recent uptick in tree related injuries and deaths that have resulted in millions of dollars in payouts by the City. Obviously, the savings are not worth the price of such injuries, not to mention the human cost to the individuals involved.
Only last week, in Connecticut, the Department of Transportation undertook to begin long overdue tree trimming along state roads in conjunction with utility companies. The State recently allotted more money for this project based upon the recommendations of a task force charged by Governor Daniel Malloy with reviewing the State's response to two storms last year that crippled the State's infrastructure. One of the recommendations of the task force was a statewide tree risk assessment and priority schedule, focusing on hazardous trees, as well as an increase in the DOT's tree maintenance budget. (for more info on this, check out Susan Haig's Associated Press story from March 11, 2012.) Unfortunately, for the people already injured by falling trees and limbs, this response may be too little, too late. The effort also seems, in large part, to be due to the efforts of power companies to protect their lines rather than public safety. But whatever the motivation, the effort is a positive development in an area where public officials have languished too long in the protections often provided by local "sovereign immunity" statutes.
After years of litigation and appeals, Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder recently won a hard fought victory in the appeals court related to a couple who were seriously injured in 2007 when a large sugar maple fell onto their vehicle as they drove down a road. As the public becomes more aware of the risks associated with the hazards of failing to maintain trees in public parks and right-of-ways, state and city officials will hopefully become more proactive with regard to this serious issue as well.
The Connecticut personal injury attorneys at Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder represent people injured due to the negligence of others. If you have been injured due to the negligence of others, send us an email or give us a call at 203-583-8634.